Tanker base for firefighting planes unveiled at ABIA

The Texas A&M Forest Service unveiled a portable air tanker base at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bynum)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas A&M Forest Service unveiled their newest tool for fighting wildfires at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday. A portable air tanker base is now stationed at the airport.

It can refill the largest air tankers, like the DC-10 Tanker, which can drop 11,600 of fire retardant at a time. They say that is four times better than any other fire retardant-carrying plane in the country.

The portable base has a place for crew to sleep and get briefed.

“What this means is we’re just so much more prepared,” Bastrop Republican Representative John Cyrier said. “It’s not having to create it as we go. It’s already set up. The training is now done on site.”

This is the second portable air tanker base of its type. The other is based in Abilene, Texas. The Texas A&M Forest Service says this base can easily be dispatched to east Texas to be used during large fires there, if needed.

Rep. Cyrier says the move to establish the base is one of 14 recommendations from the Lost Pines Property Owners Fire Protection Task Force, a committee of citizens affected by the Hidden Pines wildfire east of Bastrop in 2015.

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